The City Administration has moved to eliminate the two-year-old Office of Organizational Assessment in its current City Budget request – a department created by Mayor Carlo DeMaria and headed up by former School Department employee Omar Easy.
The City Budget proposal was submitted this month to the Council, and Review Committee Chair Anthony DiPierro has led one meeting to review it so far, an all-day meeting on May 18. Another meeting was to take place tonight, Mary 29, regarding the School Department and the DPW.
The biggest news so far, however, has been the elimination of Easy’s department in a budget that looks to show a fair amount of reorganization.
The Mayor’s Office confirmed that they have “zeroed out” the department because it no longer needs to be a full-time job.
As part of a re-structuring of municipal government in this year’s budget, that department is being folded into Human Resources – where director Lara Wehbe will take on Easy’s work.
Easy has not yet been before DiPierro’s Committee to discuss the change, but is expected in short order.
DiPierro said he wasn’t surprised to see the mission of the Office folded into Human Resources.
“I don’t think it was intended to be a long-term position,” he said. “I think it was more of a short-term mission. I think what has happened is the bulk of the work is done and it’s a little more of a transition. It ran its course and did what it was supposed to do.”
The Office of Organizational Assessment was intended to solidify the job descriptions, the effectiveness of City positions and the qualifications of those in every job. Full reports on each department were expected, with recommendations on how to streamline operations and make things more efficient.
Easy made headlines last year with the Wellness Center incident when he appeared before the City Council in a meeting that became quite confrontational. In particular, he and Councilor Michael McLaughlin did not see eye to eye on the matter. Within that conversation, Easy indicated that he had not yet finished any assessments of any departments.
In last year’s budget, several councilors were critical of his office, and quizzed him on what he was actually doing. His budget faced more scrutiny than others, and some wanted to eliminate it. However, it did pass and he was able to continue his work at City Hall.
•School Department Asks for $6.5M
The School Department will once again be asking the City for a large sum of money over and above their minimum funding requirements – that coming mostly due to budget constraints from the state again.
This year the School Department will be asking the City for $6.5 million above net school spending.
While similar numbers were quite controversial in the last two years, this time it seems like the City is ready to absorb the shortfall while the state leaders continue to argue over the best fix for urban school funding.
“That is the number we are being presented with this week,” said DiPierro about the $6.5 million. “Being on the School Finance Review Committee, I’ve been looking at those numbers regularly with the School Department and the rest of the Committee. I’m okay with it.
The School Department is also looking to add more Attendance Officers to supplement the three existing now. Apparently they are having trouble covering every school with just those officers.
•Budget is Far Below Levy Limit
The City Budget proposal is very unique this year in that it has made some major cuts and is $40 million below the tax levy limit.
As for the City operations, spending is down nearly $80,000, DiPierro said.